Monday, June 8, 2020

Make way for the masked bandits: cutting loose, with caution!

These are the worst of times. It is without reservation that Margo and I extend our condolences to all those suffering pain at these times. It would be a simple matter to skip over the hard parts and to make light of the suffering many of you have been put through, but even as I begin to write this post, it’s no longer a matter of making it through this global pandemic as it is weathering the breakdown of society. It’s impossible to ignore that for us living in the US, there is much soul-searching to be done and our passage will not be an easy one. And yet, as with any journey, Margo and I are confident that in a country as bountiful as the US, we will make it through and life will be a lot different to what it is today.

Perhaps it was HPE CEO Antonio Neri who expressed it best when he wrote to his employees of how:

“The events of the last week have been hard for me to process. I’m sure you’ve felt a lot of emotions like I have – anger, disbelief, sadness, grief and frustration with the systemic oppression and racism that still exist in our society.

“As a global company, we have responsibility to help shape a world that is equal for all people. Our shared beliefs include a commitment to unconditional inclusion, to advocate within and outside HPE for equality – it’s time to lean into our belief to solve humanity with humanity.” 

There is little I would want to add to the above other than to reiterate, the US is a big, magnanimous country and this is not the end but rather a beginning and like all beginnings to outsiders it can look chaotic. But even as there is ways to go, Margo and I are confident that as Neri observed, we will solve humanity with humanity.

Many years ago, Jimmy Buffet recorded the song, A lot to drink about:

Hey, have you noticed that the world has changed
That the news is all bad
Well, I think it's time for a song about that …

Among the versus are a few lines that rank right up there with being among lines I really like: 

Millionaires losing everything.
Hey, welcome to the other side of life!
There goes the yacht, there goes the Rolls,
But you, you get to keep your wife!

Followed by:

Now, Madoff made off with all the money.
And his clients are down to skunk weed.
Repeat after me, it's so easy to see
We're only talking simple greed.

Clearly these words were penned during the height of the Global Financial Crises but it’s all rather sad to realize how well they resonate in these times. As for our martini, which now you may realize seems to offer an appropriate segue within this post well, it’s a Campari Martini with a Lemon twist. The bitterness plays well with the Vodka, thank goodness and for now, just has to be drink of the hour.

But you, you get to keep your wife! Not bad, eh? No complaints from my point of view. But gradually even with everything that is going on, Margo and I are about to get of the leash. In the last post you read about our trip up the mountains to Walden, Colorado. This time, it turned out to be our first trip of the season to Estes Park. We have always enjoyed the drive up the canyon that follows the Big Thompson River, a tributary of the South Platte River.

After a solid winter with above average snowfall, the river was running high and by the time we reached the reservoir at Estes, it was clear that there would be a lot of tubing and kayaking once summer takes hold. On the day we drove to Estes it was announced that Trail Ridge Road would be opening and that the Rocky Mountain National Park scenic loop connecting Estes Park to Grand Lake, Granby and then back to Denver would be opened.

However, with plenty of ice on the road it will be a while before we venture up and over this pass – it is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, reaching an elevation of 12,183 feet. If you are in the neighborhood, it’s a must-drive 49 mile road of which 11 miles just happen to be above the tree line. Perhaps we will revisit taking this journey towards the end of July.    

To those readers who look for a car update, then let’s cut to the chase. This Jaguar F-Type never ceases to impress. We have had the opportunity to drive many cars over the twenty plus years Margo and I have been married but this one looks like it’s going to be a keeper. How often have you read of this happening? Still a couple of years away but it become cause for serious consideration as a long term sports car. If it wasn’t for the news of the Corvette C8 coupe then this would have been an easy decision to make, but then, who knows? In the past, however, we have made numerous interesting decisions concerning the cars we have parked in the garage.

As we walked away from the car park at Estes we were struck by how quiet the place had become. Very few people walking the street and even fewer places willing to take anyone inside for a meal, drink or trinket: Not like the Estes Park we know! Oh well, social distancing is still being practiced but the number of people we encountered not wearing masks was definitely on the rise. Then again, having time alone to just sit by the stream that flows through the township was priceless and we knew that shortly, all this was about to change. Even as we were happy to continue isolating, throwing further caution to the wind and cutting loose seemed imminent, indeed.

With summer on the way and the prospect of entertaining friends drawing near, it was time to start thinking about finishing the furnishing of our outdoor patio. We had the builder extend the concrete pour to give us more of a focal point and so, after much deliberation, the chairs and wood-fired pit arrived. We previously had a high top table, a hand me down from Margo’s kids, we wanted to work into the area and yes, we have a free-standing bar on order.

An outdoor mat has been rolled out and the big outdoor umbrella on order will be arriving shortly and with its assembly complete, it should lead to plenty of opportunities to entertain our friends in the fall. However, this is till all very much work in progress but Margo and I are looking forward to the first opportunity to fire up the pit and cook us some S’mores. As for the small Coleman grill upstairs well it’s looking like it’s seen its last days so a much larger Weber 4 burner grill will likely appear very soon.

And now, continuing with this posts’ abbreviated car themes, with summer around the corner we continue to capitalize on sunny days by taking out the BMW i8 Roadster. There’s nothing quite like it on the road and we rarely come across another i8. All of which is to say, we are now in multiple minds as to what comes next after all for those keeping count, it’s now ten months and we haven’t bought a car. Having said that, we took our BMW M4 Competition into the shop for a full service and while there we walked the showroom floor. Ahhh – temptations! But we didn’t give in this time.

However, it’s very hard to look past the i8. There are many critiques of this car who will tell you it’s lacking power and yes, the distance covered in battery mode only is not that great. To all of these critiques all we can say is that you are missing the point. This vehicle is a thing of beauty; a spacecraft that has landed in our driveway. When we bought the i8 coupe it took only a matter of weeks before we sold the Maserati GT-S as we no longer were driving it – all of our time was spent behind the wheel of the i8. Naturally enough, with the roadster the M4 and the Jaguar F Type are both getting a little nervous.

We may not be ready for S’mores and the grill is still to be upgraded but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time to grill and on this occasion, it was time to grill a true Aussie burger “with the lot!” Yes we ate these burgers with the local brew and I did manage to put the bun on top, cut it in half and then eat by hand. How else do you eat an Aussie hamburger? So, what went into this gastronomic delight?

There was the patty of course but there were also onions, grilled pineapple, bacon and an egg. Under the patties were lettuce, tomato and pickled beetroot. That’s right: beets, pineapple and an egg! When I was a young lad spending time on Manly beach it was a tradition to buy this burger and wash it down with a can of pineapple juice. Back then it was only available in cans and the combination made the trip across the hot sand and the blistering bitumen to the cafĂ©, wearing no shoes, worth all the temporary pain we suffered.

Margo and I no longer head to the beach to catch the surf. For that matter, we don’t even head to the clubhouse for a round of golf. Spring continues to hit us hard with afternoon storms – not quite the ferocity of those we experienced in Sydney a while’s back – but all the same, violent enough to send the golfers running for shelter. On the other hand, with every opportunity that presents itself we head to the garage and take to the road. 

We still exercise a degree of caution with every trip we take and our masks are always at hand. On the other hand, with winter now long gone and the temperatures regularly climbing above 80, there’s nothing as satisfying as responding to the call of the highway. Our last road trip was back in January and that’s just too long ago to even suggest it was in recent times. So here’s to cutting loose and to that next adventure that always begins where the driveway meets the road!


Unknown said...

Can't comment on the cars or the burgers, but no question the Zinfandel is top drawer!

Unknown said...

And about the burger... isn't it's native base is a crumpet?

Richard said...

Oh yes, forgive us both as we did zin ...